Shannon Larkin, MAT '18

What are you doing now that you have graduated from Saint Mike’s?

I am an ABA teacher in an urban school district in Connecticut. This is my first year in this position, but since graduation, I’ve worked in two different schools. Specifically, I work with students with intensive needs, mostly autism.

What made you choose SMC?

I originally planned on attending a different college. However, I knew somebody in the St. Mike’s MAT program. She said, “Look, I think you should check it out. I think they may honor more of your credits.” Afterwards, I met with Amy Knight. After meeting with her and sorting through my credits, she asked when I would want to start. I wanted to start as soon as possible, and so I began the program four days later. They were very willing to accept my previous education, and I didn’t have to retake any classes.

Is there a specific experience from SMC you had that really resonates with you to this day?

The cohort that we had was great and supportive, even though we are from all different parts of the state and are in different teaching positions. We all worked while attaining our degrees, which is pretty unique to the education field. We had so many experiences to share with each other. It was great to be able to hear other people’s experiences, for sure, and to get their expertise from what they’ve learned at their jobs.

Career-wise, are you exactly where you imagined you’d be, or did things change after graduation?

It was a crazy ride figuring out where I would end up. The fieldwork experiences you have during the program make you think deeply about what you truly want to do. So, you might enter the program thinking that you will pursue one thing, but then you end up with a completely different opinion because of what you’ve learned in the program or what you’ve learned in your field work. I’ve stayed in relatively the same field, but I have experience in things that I never thought I’d be interested in and I ended up putting that into my practice.

What aspects of the MAT program prepared you most for your post-grad success?

I would say that the fieldwork and unit teaching portions prepared me the most for my career.

Do you have any advice for current students who are thinking about enrolling in the program?

For schools that are well funded and have much staffing, if you are working for them, you’ll learn what it’s like to have a supportive staff and have all the resources you need. You might read in your coursework about how to support students with English language needs, students who grow up in poverty, or students with significant trauma.

I was working in Northeast Kingdom, which was pretty far out from Chittenden and similar school districts that have more resources. The resources were just so few and far between and my caseload was very large. However, that’s the reality of what special education is in the world. There is really no substitute for working in a school like that. When you’re in the program and you have the support of your Saint Michael’s team, it would be a great time to experience something like this. Having those resources and people to connect with was very helpful for me. It would have been a lot harder to do if I didn’t have that in an under-resourced school. People should experience those school districts while they have the opportunity.